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tv   Q A  CSPAN  April 17, 2011 11:00pm-12:00am EDT

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next, "q&a" with andrew ferguson from "the weekly standard." and then the debate among the candidates for the next canadian prime minister. then donald trump at a tea party rally in florida. ♪ >> this week, andrew ferguson of the weekly standard talks about all the issues he faced helping his teenage son get into college. it is all in his new book called "crazy u: one dad's crash course in getting his kid into college." >> andrew ferguson, your book is called "crazy u: one dad's crash course in getting his kid into college." when you think back over this experience, what are the
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moments that are in your head? >> well, there is a whole series of moments which i would like to forget. i had to record them anyway. the one that sticks in my mind the most was saying goodbye to my son and dropping him off at college. the book takes us all the way from the beginning of even looking at colleges and thinking about colleges to getting him in, and then dropping him off at school. it was the culmination of all these 18 months of worrying and anxiety. for a parent, is a very bittersweet feeling. on one hand, you showed the kid out the door and he is on his own, and on the other hand, you don't really want to see the kid go. it is sort of all parenthood in miniature. as i say in the book, to be a parent means you are training the people you cannot live
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without to live without you. that is exactly what happens when you say goodbye. >> simon and schuster put together what is called a pr vehicle for you to promote this book. i think i even heard you saying you have not seen -- you cannot find it in the book, the dedication. let's run this. ♪ ♪ >> i am andrew ferguson, author of "crazy u: one dad's crash course in getting his kid into college." this is the kid. when i start to think about the whole admissions process, the
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kind of effect it had on our relationship, i start to think of some of the things that didn't happen. there was no homicide involved. >> no strangling. >> there were no nervous breakdowns i think in the end, we were pretty much better off than we were before, because we no longer had to worry about getting into college. >> there were times when i just would not want to see him because i knew that every time i saw him he would bug me about doing my essay or doing some work on my application, or why was not i doing it at that time. >> it was hard to judge his direction because he would just be pacing around in circles behind me the entire time. >> he could never tell what direction i was moving because it was circular the whole time. the other thing is when i would
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not walk by and harass him. you would go to sleep. you would go to sleep. or turn on espn. >> this book closed in march of 2010, so it is a year ago. when did your son go to his school? >> the previous september. he matriculated in september of 2009, so this was all taking place in 2008 and 2009. >> what does the word matriculate mean? >> i cannot explain it, sorry. i still remember from school, they said i was matriculating on a certain date. you're supposed to do that in public? he was enrolled. he showed up at school in september of 2009. >> i don't know that i have ever seen a video like this one. is this the new world? >> yes, i think they had us do
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that a couple of months ago, and i did not know that it had ever gotten done. it is supposed to make people want to buy the book. i am not really sure how that works. >> when did you know you had a book? >> that was pretty early on. i didn't know what i was in for. as i say in the book, all of a sudden, my son started getting solicitations in the mail, these big, fat, viewbooks they are called. they are like brochures on these really thick papers. it was so tasty looking. very expensive packages they were sending him. when i thought back, nothing like that had happened to me when i was thinking about college in the mid-1970's. it dawned on me that this was a very different process than
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what it was. of course we have friends who were just starting to percolate with a little bit of anxiety about it themselves. i went looking for a book. there are tons of books on college admissions. i could not find any one that sort of satisfied what i was looking for. i did not want it to be morose and lugubrious, but on the other hand i wanted it to have a few tips that i could trust. so i thought, i would just write it. >> you went to occidental college in california. what year did you graduate? >> 1978. >> you say that $5,100 was the tuition then when you were in school. for a year? >> my last year, that was the total room and board and tuition. >> you said applied to inflation it would be $16,000 today, but it is well over $40,000. >> now you see why i did the
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book. i had to figure out a way to pay for my son's college education. >> what is the reason for that, beyond inflation costs? >> it is the question -- it is the $55,000 question that every parent faces in our situation, which is how you pay for it? why is it so expensive? i could not get a straight answer. there have been some studies done, but mostly academics have shied away from the subject, for obvious reasons. they don't want to talk bad about the boss. what few studies i could find were not that helpful. finally, i found a guy who is a professor at ohio state, an economist. economist. he has studied the economy of higher education so thoroughly that every president of a
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university hates him, because he actually applied a skeptical eye to this. i went to see him, and i said tell me the answer to the question that nobody will answer for me, which is why do they keep raising the prices? he said because they can. in a nutshell, that is it. who is going to stop them? the government is not going to stop them. the parents are not going to stop them. the kids are not going to stop them, so it just keeps going up and up. >> what is the difference in going to state school versus a private school? private school? >> it depends on the state school. my son is going to a state school now. we are probably paying about half of what we would pay if he had gone to a private, liberal arts school. >> let's go back to your own situation. you and your wife live where?
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>> in arlington, virginia, right across the bridge from d.c. >> how many kids do you have? >> two. >> what is your relationship with your son? >> we have always got along very well. he is just a wonderful person, as is my daughter. i know you are shocked to hear that, but i really like my kids. we have always had a good relationship, and i think pretty candid and open. this thing really did put pressure on us that had not been there before. >> why? >> partly my fault, partly that was thinking about this too much. much. partly his fault, because he was actually rather lackadaisical at times. toward the end, the picture i had of him was, you know those bodies at the end of the titanic, floating face down in the water? that is certainly the position
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my son had assumed by the time we were all through. as i said before, the book is really about how to survive the process of getting into college. we had friends who really thought they had damaged their relationship with their kids because of the pressure it caused. >> you dedicate the book to your daughter and your son, but if someone does not know who that is, they have no idea what your son's name is. did you decide up front not to name him in the book, and why? name him in the book, and why? >> a couple of names are changed. i wanted it to be his choice, if he wanted it to come out in any kind of spectacular way. i thought it made it more -- made his character more a kind of everyman.
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as wonderful kid as he is, what he was going through was what millions of kids go through over the course of two or three years. i thought it might be better if he was not identified by name. i should also say, he hates his name, gillum. many of his friends call him gill. it is an old family name. the other name was craighead. the other name was craighead. i told him he could have been craighead ferguson or gillum ferguson. >> you talked about the other universities he could have gotten into.
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>> i did not want to identify them. i think on the book jacket i say i live in suburban washington d.c. i don't know why i thought i could get away with leaving that ambiguous. our big state university is the university of virginia. he applied to virginia tech and william and mary and a couple of other schools like that. part of the problem with the university of virginia is it has a reputation because of thomas jefferson, and because that beautiful campus is so lovely and historically significant. does have sort of reputation of being something other than university of kentucky or university of illinois, but it is not, really.
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you get out to the farther reaches of it and you might as well be at kansas university. >> there is a little bit more of you talking about what is in the mind of a 17-year-old kid. >> we had one bit of advice early on that we did not take, that i was quite adamant that we not take. it suggested when he was going to start writing his essays for the college applications that it had to be a work of passion. they want him to dig deep into himself, into his innermost thoughts. i said, he is a 17-year-old boy, he does not have innermost thoughts, and if he did, you would not want to know what they are. luckily we went all the way through the process without you telling me what your innermost thoughts were. >> yes, you are lucky.
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>> thank you for that. >> it looks to me like he had some innermost thoughts. does he understand your sense of humor? >> we have always been on the same wave length. there is always a lot going on in our house and a lot of ribbing and a touch of sarcasm here in there. >> what was your agreement with your son about this book? did you have any? >> none. >> did you give him any option to say i do not want to participate? >> no, because as i said, this is how we are paying for his college education. i had him read the manuscript because i didn't -- i did not want him to have anything in there that he thought was embarrassing. i really did not want to do that. he did not have any choice about whether i was going to write it or not. years ago, i made a decision as a journalist and writer that i was never going to write about my kids. writing about your kids for a
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columnist was the ultimate failure of imagination and self indulgent and so on. so i have been writing about my kids for the last 20 years. i could not keep a pledge. >> so he is a freshman at the university of virginia. >> a sophomore. the second year. >> how did he do his first year? >> i never got to see the grades. he told me what they were, and i assume he was telling me the truth, so he is doing ok. he is very active in a fraternity and is having a great time, maybe too great of a time. >> what do you think of college, the whole idea of it? >> that is partly what the book is about. i was trying to figure out what i thought about college. my own experience in the 1970's was, i was looking back on it. i am kind of ambivalent about it.
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it was right when the revolution of the 1960's was taking hold and becoming the mainstream on college campuses. the revolutionaries of 1968 became the assistant professors of 1975 and the department chairs of 1990. i saw this transformation of what he called political correctness now, getting ready of all the parietal rules, curfews, and so on. now, colleges are in full flower. there are serious drawbacks to it, i think. i think a lot of kids are not getting -- are finding it harder to get the kind of education that they could at other schools. there are no mandatory survey
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classes, european history from 1066 to 1522, or american literature from the revolutionary period to 1850. what used to be the meat and potatoes of the liberal arts education. now, professors for reasons of self-interest have sort of dug into these silos of little individual details of scholarship. witchcraft in south london from 1588 through 1592, stuff like that. those are the classes that are on offer for the kids. they come in and they look around and they don't have any way to get their bearings. it is very hard to get a broad brush education in the first couple of years. >> go back to your son, and he
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was how old when the first viewbook came in from college? >> i guess 16. >> how many did you get over a period of time? >> several hundred. i would say probably 200. >> how did they know he was about to graduate? >> this is a thing i found out that i don't think other parents know. when the kids take their practice sat test, the big aptitude test as they used to call it, they take the psat, which is like the practice of the s.a.t.. there is a questionnaire that goes with it. if i ever knew this, had forgotten it. it is rather detailed, and the kid discourses all kinds of information about himself, what his zip code is, so they can have a sense of how much money his family has, the kind of courses he is hoping to take,
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what region of the country he would like to live or go to school in. the college board amasses this huge data bank of information about each prospective college student in america. >> do they sell that to the colleges? >> they sell it for 30 cents a name. the colleges come to them and say we are a small baptist college in the southwest. we need to know the names of every baptist kid within 100 miles of our campus. and the college board can come up with a certain number of kids. they by that list, and then the colleges start bombarding them with these view books and emails and stuff like that. >> what do you think of that idea? >> i think it is awful, actually. there is a sense of this from people in the business that this is the way kids find us.
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this is the way -- this kid may not know of this nice baptist college that he could go to and his parents would like him to go to. unless the college has sought him out and reached through his mail box slot and drop this in his living room. i find that less convincing. ason't think it would be elaborate a system as it is if it were just about helping a kid find a college. >> what does it cost just to apply to college? >> it varies from $60 to $90. some of them are less. between $40 and $90 was our experience. >> how many colleges did gillum apply to? >> i believe eight. you are already putting out some money. up to $400.
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some kids now are applying to 12, 14 schools. >> how many schools did you visit? >> he had the number. i think it was over 10. >> did you go with him every time? >> my job was to drag him. i had not gone along, he would not have gone. >> where did he go? >> we went to uva -- for expense reasons, a lot of parents put together elaborate college tours. i talked to one guy who went to comical extremes. for reasons of economy, i would try to piggyback things if i had to go on business trips. i had to go to california, and he went along and saw colleges out there. we had to go to a wedding in chicago, so we saw colleges there. we went to visit friends in new england and saw colleges there. i try to economize as much as possible.
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you can really get into real money if you want to do a thorough college search. >> based on what colleges you went to, which one would you have picked? have picked? >> i really liked dartmouth, because it is old and new englandy. >> did he? >> no, he hated it. we went on a gorgeous summer day, and he was not fooled, because he knew that in four months that place would be packed in ice. >> hanover, new hampshire. >> the one regret he had, and i talk about this in the book, my wife and i developed this rule that when you go on a college tour, there is a false front they show you, fantastic macrobiotic food options in the food court and so on. my wife and i would go to the bathrooms in the student union
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because they almost always have the bulletin boards and the post the coming attractions, what is going to be happening at school that week. you really see a lot more about the life of the school that way. when we were in dartmouth, they were advertising a sex fair in the coming week, and they were going to be having a live sex demonstration. afterwards they were going to give away free ben & jerry's ice-cream. i said to my wife, when i was a kid, you did not have to give free ice-cream to get people to a sex fair. i think that was the only time my son had a twinge of regret. "maybe i do want to go to dartmouth." >> what would have been your second choice? >> uva, maybe. i am a sucker for that whole jeffersonian line that they have.
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>> university of virginia is how far from washington? >> 2.5 hours. it is huge. i think it is about $12,000 to $14,000. a big undergraduate program. >> at what point did he decide he wanted to go there? >> he thought about it all as one of his favorite schools. we were very lucky, as i say in the book. these were high class problems. he had a range of choices that he could entertain, not that we could have afforded them. notre dame was his first pick, but then he started to realize it had the dartmouth problem, just a lot of snow and ice there. our first meeting with his college counselor in high school was not very promising. we sat there with his mother
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and we sat before this college counselor at his high school and he finally said, i will tell you the kind of school i want to go to. i want to go to a place where i can take off my shirt, paint my chest in the school colors and major in beer. i thought, i do not think he has the right attitude about this. turns out that is the kind of school he went to. >> if a parent or friend came to you and said give me three or four things about your experience that i should know, heading into getting my kid in college. >> for practical advice, the one i mentioned about the bathrooms on college tours. i would avoid college nights, where they try to separate you in to the ballroom of some suburban hotel and there are three or four schools and they put on a slide show. i think there is one photo
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agency in america for these colleges and they all buy the same picture of the kids in the sun-dappled grass and all of that. >> i remember reading in your book, saying why is it that three or four colleges come together for a night and they are competing against each other? >> it is sort of like "miracle on 34th street," macy's and gimbel's getting together for a little while. they are competing with each other, but there are so many kids to go around that they can afford to pool their resources. it is cheaper for them if they traveled together, for example. it draws more kids in. if you are just one school, you will get maybe 30 people. if you have three or four, you'll get 200. >> how many of those nights did
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you participate in with your son? >> too many. i think we stopped at the fourth or fifth. the last one we went to, we sat fairly close to the front where all the different colleges, i think was harvard and princeton and someone else. anyway, he fell asleep rather ostentatiously. if you can sleep ostentatiously, that is what he was doing. everybody else, all the other parents there are hunched over with their blackberries because they are not paying attention either. my son is sticking up like a cornstalk, absolutely dead to the world. i nudged him and escorted him out. >> what else would you tell a friend about getting kids into college?
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>> i made a dreadful mistake of putting off the financial aid form until the night before it was due. i think it was due on march 1. some schools require you to have it done earlier. it is called fafsa. >> free application for federal student aid. >> i tried to put it out of my mind. >> it is incredibly elaborate form that delves into -- it gets into every part of your finances. you have to have the information there or it will take you hours to try and put this together. they say it should not take longer than an hour, but that is a bunch of bull. >> what is the point of it? >> oh, i am sorry, i should as
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said. if you hope to get any kind of financial aid, whether it is a grant or a work study program or a pell grant or any of the loans available from the government, you have to fill out one of these forms. this is information that is readily available to schools themselves. one of the things i talk about in there that i don't think people realize is that the schools are in possession -- when you apply for financial aid or even just apply and you fill out a fafsa, they are in possession of your financial information. they know how much money you make and how much your spouse makes and how much savings you have and so on. when they put together any kind of financial package, they are bidding on you, essentially, and they bid with complete knowledge of your finances. imagine if you were a car salesman and you could have everything you need to know about someone's finances, how much they are prepared to pay and so on. you would really like that
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information. >> there are a bunch of things you have already mentioned. that last clip with your son about the essay, what is the essay? you fight about the essay. >> that was sort of a traumatic period. what i mentioned about friends who thought they had really damage their relationship with their kids, it came during that process. process. it is a series of essays. the actual application is just a questionnaire that takes 10 minutes to fill out or maybe longer. the essay is where they say they are going to try and -- they are getting to your innermost thoughts. they want the kid to show passion, show the real you. write about yourself in a creative, funny -- not funny, i don't think they like humor, actually. in a self revelatory way, you
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are supposed to expose yourself in these essays. >> how long are they? >> is usually not more than 500 words, although some went up to 1200. >> can you write one essay that goes to all of them? >> there are so many schools taking the common application, one application is on line and it goes to probably more than half of the colleges in the united states now. the schools in addition to that want you to do a few more essays. there are usually available to a kid, something straight forward just like to tell us about yourself, or something. what all the advice manuals tell you is to write about something intimate, and write about yourself. i know from many years of failing at it, writing about yourself is an extremely
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difficult thing to do well. they are asking something of they are asking something of kids that many of them are not prepared to do, and a lot of them do not like to do. my son is not introspective, and why should he be? i wasn't at that age. it is interesting. you are asking the kid to reveal something that may not be their business. >> could you have written the essay for him? >> i could have, and i know people who did. there is a college counselor who charges $40,000 to get your kid into school. ones who charge much less than that will write the essay for the kid. >> why would colleges do that if they don't know who wrote it?
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>> admissions officials will tell you that they can tell the difference. they can sniff out a concocted essay or something that has been over coached or even written for them. i talk about these services on the web now. because i was doing this book at the same time, i paid i think 200 bucks, nearly $250 to buy an essay, and i filled out a little form that sort of described an epiphany in my son's life, which was not really an epiphany, but because that is the kind of essay that they like. i wrote about a thing in his life that happened about a race that he had won and gave them the details of that, sent it
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off, and within a week, i got a full-blown essay back, written in the first person, with all the buzzwords that college admissions committees like, which is about diversity and passion and so on, and how great i am and how great i am going to do at their school and all that sort of stuff. i could have just picked this thing up or given it to him and sent it off. >> in the end, your son was admitted to the university of virginia with what s.a.t. score? >> i don't know. he got good scores. i talked about the kids in there and the parents -- they are on a scale of 2400 rather than 1600. than 1600. they have added another segment
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to it which is an essay writing thing. he is a smart guy. >> how did he do in high school? >> he was a good student. >> i am wondering what it was at uva that ended up being the reason they let him in. >> no one will ever know. the decision making that the colleges themselves do is a black box. you cannot discover what precisely is that determines what one kid gets in and another does not. there are all sorts of secrets in their that kind of hint at what is going on, but it varies from school to school.
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there are reasons for that. these guys are in the higher education business, and they are trying to get the kids they want to get. they have proprietary secrets. >> how many schools that he put his application into did he get turned down from? >> i should have thought of that before. several, probably half. >> you said notre dame. >> i think he was waitlisted. >> uva was way up there on the likability index, but there's no reason -- that is a state school, which is pretty popular in the state of virginia. >> he had all kinds of things going against him because we live in northern virginia. it has to have geographic
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diversity because it is a state school. he had some marks against him. believe me, when he got in, we were very happy. >> tell us the story of catherine cohen. >> it was when i decided i would do the book. a friend called and told me about this woman in manhattan who is a college counselor, very successful, huge business, beautiful office right near carnegie hall. the platinum package as she calls it is $40,000. she will take your kid by hand at age 14 or something, tell the kid what classes to take, what extracurriculars to have, how the kid should spend his
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summer, all designed to get into the school that the parents of a kid like him to get into. i was agog at at that $40,000 figure. >> is it paid up front? >> i think it is paid as you go along. i called her up and she agreed to let me go with her to a seminar that she was giving up in suburban connecticut to a group of high net worth individuals, which is the new euphemism for really, really rich people. i went up there, and this was just at the start of the process. i went up there and saw these people who had almost the look
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of a hungry wolf in their eyes. she tried to walk them through what exactly the kids were going to have to do to get into a brown or harvard, yale, or stanford. i thought it was kind of appalling, and number two, i better get on the stick, because these people have because these people have already -- i talked to parents had been amassing brag sheets, almost like a resume for kids. since the seventh or eighth grade, they had been compiling videos of their sports performances, music recitals, mentions of them in the local newspaper, saving little essays or something that the kid had written, all in anticipation of this glorious day when they would get into brown. >> what makes cat cohen
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qualified to tell someone how to get into college? >> she is extremely smart. she had worked at brown, i believe. i guess she started in the admissions department at brown and worked there for several years. she has a very wide network of acquaintances and friends. i think she always knows what is hot in the academic marketplace. >> what did it cost for people to go to that seminar? >> the seminar was free, because it was held at a bank, an investment bank. the bank had gotten all these people together to steer them, basically so that the people would start investing money through their bank and get a higher rate of return so they
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could then afford brown. the lady who came out and introduced cat cohen was with the bank. she said okay, let's say you are in connecticut and you have three kids -- of course nobody had three kids. you only have two kids if you are a high net worth individual. she said in 10 years it will cost you a million dollars to send your kids for four years. that is for three kids. one to a state school, one to a school like fairfield and one to yale. that sent a shock wave through the audience. then cat cohen came out and started reading off some of these acceptance rates. college of the ozarks has a 16% acceptance rate. brigham young university in
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hawaii has 16%. then you get down into brown, harvard, yale, where you are well under 10%. these people were scared. >> you went to see the college board. >> no, i didn't. i spent time with their critics, one of whom i talk about in their, bob schaefer. >> i thought you described them in their offices and how much they make. >> no, bob schaefer did that. he is a research director. it is a longstanding organization dedicated to basically eliminating achievement or aptitude test from college admissions and beyond that, from everywhere in the workplace and graduate schools and so on.
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they are dedicated to the idea that the s.a.t. -- the s.a.t. they believe is essentially a racist and classist document that heavily favors white, upper-middle-class people and should be abolished. >> do you think they are right? >> no, i don't think they are right at all. there is a bit in there about the history of the s.a.t., which is fascinating. it's almost like the history of american believes in equality and opportunity and fairness of the last 80 years. to trace how the s.a.t. has changed and how it has tried to respond to political pressure. the thing i discovered, i took the s.a.t. at the same time my
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son was taking it. i dropped him off in front of the high school on a saturday morning with all of these other kids in the front of the building and they were all looking kind of nervous. i thought of course they are nervous, the s.a.t. is a big deal. the only reason they were nervous is because they were having to give up their cell phones so they could not text message for four hours. i went home and took down an s.a.t. practice test and to give myself. i learned many things about myself in that awful four hours, but one of the things i learned is that the s.a.t. is incredibly boring. aside from the math stuff, which might have been written in cuneiform. i did not understand that at all. the actual reading parts were just dull, drab. there was not anything you could get your hooks into. the reason for that is that
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college boards have gone to such lengths that no one will ever be offended by anything on an s.a.t. that they have leached out anything at all provocative or interesting. provocative or interesting. the hoops that they jump through to cleanse their test of any kind of conceivable class or gender or racial or ethnic bias. >> does the college board own the s.a.t.? >> they have had a change in their relationship that i do not quite understand. the educational testing service writes the test. they are the ones who have the offices in princeton. they say they are in princeton but it is really just a mailing address.
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the college board also has an elaborate and expensive office space by lincoln center. they are the ones who make sure it gets out to all the right people. >> so much of all this is for profit? >> supposedly none of it is. there is a lot of talk about for-profit schools and how terrible they are. i kept bumping into the fact that it was competitive, these colleges are trying to get the best kids that they could and so on. it reminded me of a friend of mine who studies philanthropy. he has a wonderful saying, nonprofit is the designation in the tax code, it is not an operating philosophy. the schools are existing to maximize the revenue and lower
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their costs, just as any business would. it is just sort of a freak that they don't have to be for- profit institutions. higher education in america is an incredibly competitive industry, run by people who refuse to believe that they are an industry or that they are competitive, but that is the truth. it is a market, and a very vicious one. >> who are the kitchen people? >> it started to occur to me, i noticed it happening. in our little suburb, there are barbeques and cocktail parties or whatever, dinner parties, and every one that we went to from the time my kid was 16, there would be this little group
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of people who would end up in the kitchen, or maybe out on the back deck, trading gossip and information and little tidbits of tips and things we might have heard about how to get the kids into school. "did you hear about this college counselor, he is terrible." all this sort of thing. i started to think of it as sort of a tribe within a tribe of people huddling together like little hamsters in a cage, trying to comfort each other. >> and you named it "the kitchen people." how old is your daughter? >> she will be 18. >> is she going to college? >> she got into college at charleston, which is also a state school in south carolina. >> it will cost you a little
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more than it does to go to uva. >> i just discovered how much it is going to cost, but we will not talk about that. anyway, it is a beautiful place and it seems to fit her very well. >> did you go through this with her as well? >> she was less tolerant of my hovering than my son was. it was also a calmer experience, because i know how it ends. having been through it with my son, i realize you do survive. knowing that that was going to happen, it was much easier to go through it. >> you are in the middle of having two kids in college with lots of money every year. you talk in the book that there is $143 billion of financial aid available. is that a year? >> yes.
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>> available from where? >> a lot of it is the federal government. the obama administration has tried to drastically increase that amount of money available in pell grants, but there are also subsidized loans. it is now happening that is coming of for the federal government. that was one of the things the obama administration tried to reform was the whole student loan market. it comes from state government, private foundations, or the federal government. >> what do you think of that? >> i think it is a problem, because for a lot of reasons -- one of them being, i am not getting any of that money. i applied for it, but seriously, one of the things you realize when you watch this steady climb of tuition costs, it is attended at every step away by an increase in available
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aid, mostly federal aid, subsidized loans and grants. there is some relationship. academics are studying what exactly the relationship is. when all this increase in aid over the last 30 years, and the huge increases in tuition, the number of people below the poverty line or in the lower percentile of the population is pretty much the same percentage of the college going population. in hopes of inducing more poor kids to go to college, which is a good goal, we have just spent a lot of money, and nothing seems to have happened. >> how many four-year colleges and universities are there in the united states? >> i believe it is 2000, but i might be mixing up my numbers. it is either 1500 or 2000. maybe it is 1200.
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it has been awhile since i wrote it. >> i think the number you wrote in the book is 1400. >> i said 1200, 2000, and now 1400. those numbers are all over the place. i have never seen a solid figure on the exact number of four- year colleges in the united states. >> the washington post over the last weekend wrote a piece on education. it is about their own company and its wrongdoing. it is all about private colleges, owned colleges and all that. did you look into that, and did your son ever think about doing any of the private colleges?
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>> no, because he had these other options. i have since looked into them quite a bit. it is a really in the book because i was writing about a certain kind of experience, and this was not part of our experience, but i have gotten very interested in it as a journalist, trying to read about the for-profit schools. i am very interested about the hostility that the for-profit schools have generated. they are being singled out for sucking in federal money through loans and pelgrin is that the kids get. >> why are they wasting any more than a college that has jacked up the tuition? >> this is another question that is not being answered. the problem is that they are for profit, and they are making a lot of money. some of them are making huge amounts of money. they are utterly dependent on federal money. if the federal stuff dried up
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tomorrow, phoenix and all those guys would just collapse. but that is also true of the nonprofit schools. the schools have become creatures of this student aid behemoths that is out there. but the transgressions of the for-profit schools, bringing in kids who probably should not be there, not following up and helping them with job counseling, not following them to make sure they can pay off their loans and so long after they are gone, all of that is happening in the nonprofit. >> what do you think of tenure? >> if i were a professor, i would love it. i think basically it is a good idea. i think these guys need to have freedom to pursue what they want. the problem is that the very thing that tenure was designed to provide, which is insulation from political pressure and so on is now being provided fairly
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reliably -- being brought to bear up within departments themselves were kind of political correctness can be in force. some who have conservative or moderate views feel like they are being penalized. >> how long have you been with "the weekly standard." >> since it began in 1999. >> besides occidental, where else did you go to school? >> i was in berkeley in california, i was in church divinities school of the pacific, indiana university. i get around. >> how did your lincoln book do? >> i think it did well. people get addicted to these rankings for how much things are selling.
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it is like a crack pipe. i have tried to stay away from it. >> what is your next book? >> i don't know. i am dying to find a good idea. >> in the experience you had with this book, what is the most hilarious moment that you and your son participated in? >> i mentioned him falling asleep at the college night. offhand that is probably the one i remember most. >> how about your daughter? >> my daughter is a saint. she was dragged along on all of this, these college trips. emily is her name. >> what is your wife's name? denise. >> what does denise think about all this? >> she has read the book. she thinks i did not give full enough expression to her son's
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wonderfulness, that i was somehow muting his spectacular gifts and charms, which i am sure is true. it would be hard to do justice to him. he is a wonderful guy. on the scale of easy and hard, where would you put this book? >> it was never easy. it was very hard, actually. i felt like i was doing a lot of different kinds of things. i have a lot of journalism and reporting in there. at the same time, i was writing about myself, which kind of makes me antsy, and i was trying to tell a story. all of those things at once. >> the name of the book is "crazy u: one dad's crash course in getting his kid into college." andrew ferguson, thank you for your time. >> thank you so much for having
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me. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011] >> for a dvd copy of this program, call 1-877-662-7726. for free transcripts or to give us your comments about this program, visit us at q-and-a.org. "q&a" programs are also available as c-span podcasts. >> next, a portion of this week's debate among the candidates wishing to become the next canadian prime minister. then donald trump at a tea party rally in florida. then president obama speaking at a pre-election rally at
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chicago's navy yard. tomorrow on "washington journal," douglas holtz-eakin compares the presidents and republicans budget proposal. the president of the national resources defense -- defense council discusses the impact of the 2011 budget cut on epa. and a member of the commission of national responsibility talks about capping discretionary spending through 2020 and cutting security and non- security discretionary spending equally. "washington journal" live at 7:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. >> now available, complete guide to the first session of the 112th congress. inside, new and returning house and senate members with contact information, including twitter addresses and committee assignments. information on the white house, supreme court

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